With Chelsea about to face Manchester United for the first time since Roberto Di Matteo took charge, the way in which the Blues will try to get the better of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side is under discussion.
The Manchester United manager said yesterday he already knows the way we will play on Sunday and described it as through midfield all the time, whereas in the past that was one option with a longer-ball game towards Didier Drogba another. Ferguson also said that although more predictable, a system with Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar involved is not an easy one to deal with.
Di Matteo, also speaking on the subject, described the evolution at Chelsea as a natural process given the signings made over the past couple of years, but it is also a pragmatic choice.
‘Our belief is that with the players we have it is our best chance to win games playing like this,’ said the Italian.
‘We believe it is the best solution. We don’t want to just be playing nice but lose. We play in a certain way to win games. It is the ability of the players that really allows you to do this.
‘As a manager you need to be able to adapt to the players you have at your disposal,’ he added, ‘because there is no point playing a way that your players are not comfortable with, or don’t have the characteristics for, and last season it was right to go that way with the players we had, and this season we believe it right to go this way and it gives us the best chance.’
The decision to select players who would change the team’s characteristic was taken by the club as a whole Di Matteo explains, but it is still a work in progress.
‘As a team we still have to improve on the defensive responsibility and balance,’ he said.
‘It is going to take time for sure but we have shown we can do it because in many games it has been done very well. The new players have to get used to it and learn but they have the willingness and I am sure that it will come.
Eden Hazard and Oscar are new weapons to unleash on Manchester United for the first time, with the Brazilian having not looked back since he was introduced into the side five weeks ago.
‘The players that have come in have settled in quickly and that has been a big bonus,’ said Di Matteo.
‘Oscar is talented but I don’t forget he is still only 21, and so is Hazard, and we don’t want to give them all the responsibility in the world. We cannot forget that even though they are important players for us and for their national teams too.
‘They have come to a new country and a new league, and they are learning a new language and getting used to the high tempo English football.
‘Oscar is playing all the games for his national team too and doing a lot of travelling, and you need to factor all those things in.
‘We have had a good start but we need to show consistency over a long period of time. We have a very busy schedule coming up and that will be a test for us and the depth of our squad.’